Sunday, 21 August 2016

Chiming Hills of Österreich - Day 8


Return Home

Hinterglemm                                                                   Austria

Saturday 4th July 2015

Well today was the day I would be leaving beautiful Austria and head for the long journey home. I had an alarm set for 6am as our coach would be coming for us all at 6:50am. It was a very weird moment grabbing all my things and looking back into the room for a final look before finally shutting the door and heading downstairs. I honestly thought I’d be the first one down but as I opened the dining room door, I realised that I was probably the last to be there as everyone was sitting down for their breakfast. I sat with Paul and Pat with my breakfast but this time I didn’t have a large amount especially since I was flying and didn’t want the same queasy feeling as my paragliding session. By the time I finished my breakfast it was nearing the time to leave the hotel as quite a lot of people would rush upstairs to grab their cases. I was watching on at the entrance and I could see the taxis pulling up. I picked up my things and I was about to leave until I seen Kate. I walked over and said my goodbyes and jokingly said that there would be no more paper roses which she said she was going to miss. 

I headed for the taxi giving the driver my rucksack and sitting in the taxi waiting to leave. Our taxi was the first to arrive at the end of the village and as we all got out, the coach was just arriving. Just before I entered the coach, Dan the rep was at the door and I gave him a 15 euro tip and praising him for being the friendliest person I’d ever come across in my life. I then told him of the accident I had with the hire bike yesterday and he seemed relieved that I was ok jokingly saying that it was a good job there weren’t any serious accidents as he would have had to do a lot of paperwork. I entered the coach after our conversation and managed to find a seat in the middle section looking out of the window letting my thoughts sink in at the fact that I was leaving. I was glancing around the coach and I couldn’t see Paul or Pat and I was getting concerned as to where they were so I left my seat and rushed out and stopped worrying when I seen them outside still waiting to get their luggage on. Once everything was all sorted we finally set off to the airport. I had one more look over my shoulder at Hinterglemm before we turned the corner and disappeared. 

Throughout the journey I did nothing but stare out of the window having a great look of the surrounding valleys and mountains for the last time. I didn’t want the views to end but then a while later we had arrived outside the airport. We were told to wait in the coach whilst Dan would go and see which check in desks we all had to be at. It wasn’t long before he came back giving us our information and then we all got off the coach grabbing our bags. I walked up a long walk way until I went through the entrance and had walked into a very long queue. However, I could see Paul and Pat in front of me rushing to the next desk along and I followed them realising that the line I was standing in wasn’t for my plane. I was yet again amongst the front group of people and was quite happy not waiting at the back. A little time had passed until I got seen too and as soon as I showed the staff member my documents and placing my bag on the belt; I received my boarding pass heading for customs. 

Salzburg Airport

Customs was not far and I soon passed through and on my way to find my gate. I looked at the board reminding myself to look for Manchester and not Newcastle and I located it but had no gate number on yet. So I headed to duty free as I had 30 euro left to spend. At first I was going to get the large packs of cigarettes but I was short of 9 euro. So then I bought quite a lot of chocolate for people back home. I was about to head to the tills when I bumped into Paul and Pat who were browsing as well. I stuck with them for the rest of the time in the departure lounge sitting and waiting for our gate number to show up. We were talking about being back home and what we were going to do. Then, Pat told me of an incident at the hotel about 2 guests who were complaining about every trivial thing at the hotel and service which apparently made a waitress and Kate cry. I was just thinking about how they should have appreciated everything given to them even if there were trivial mistakes. Anyway, the gate number finally showed up and we were right next to it. It was at that moment when I noticed that the airport was the smallest one I had ever been too. Everything seemed crammed together especially when there were about 3 gates opened with loads of people lining up. Our line was mixed in with a London flight so we had to be focused on which line was which. 

Closer and closer I got to the barrier where I had to show my passport and boarding pass to move along. I walked straight outside and onto a bendy bus with everyone hanging on like pigs in the back of a lorry. The bus was full and we were soon on our short trip to the plane soon arriving. I got out first and headed for the steps up to the plane when I realised Paul and Pat were in front of me again. We entered the plane together and we got in our seats straight away. They were a row back from me but at the opposite side so I couldn’t have a conversation with them. I sat and watched everyone board the plane and funnily enough, I realised I was the only young one on the plane as well. I strapped myself in with my headphones plugged in whilst staring out of the window looking at the wing and engine just behind me. Once everyone was present and accounted for, the attendants closed the doors and we were soon reversing out of the gate. As we stopped again I looked at the engine and watched the fan rapidly spin around and then the plane began moving forward on its way to the runway. There were a few planes ahead of us waiting to set off so we joined the back of the line slowly edging closer to the runway. As I looked out of my window I had one last look at the huge mountain close to the airport reminding myself of the scenery before it was our turn. I looked over at the opposite side of the plane and through the window to see the long stretch of runway thinking to myself ‘this is it’. My heart was thumping away knowing that I would be soon in the air. 

The plane stood still for a moment with my anticipation growing stronger, until the throttle went down and the familiar feeling of being pushed right back in my seat started as I looked at the ground whizzing by me. The front of the plane began lifting so I held my breath and finally we were up in the air saying goodbye to Austria. I constantly watched out of my window as the ground and buildings became smaller and smaller. We eventually were at 35,000 feet as we flew over Germany and I decided to get my compass out and see which way we were heading which was obviously North West. A very long time passed as I continued looking out of the window noticing we were leaving the mainland and flying over the English Channel; then quickly enough we were flying over England. The plane took a left turn heading west as we started to descend slightly. I looked out of the window again watching on at the ground coming closer and closer. Along the way too I could see many runways below and admiring planes approaching them and taking off which I thought looked quite good. A vision that never got tiring was watching planes flying at the same height as us going right by my window. 

View from Window

As we got closer to Manchester the clouds started to become thicker so I was expecting turbulence. However, nothing happened thankfully as we passed through and under the clouds. We were on our final approach and I could hear the landing gear go down. The ground was very close as I watched on as hundreds of streets went by my window. I could also see the planes’ shadow becoming bigger and bigger. The pilots were trying to keep the plane steady and level for the landing but it seemed like they were putting up a fight against the crosswind as the plane was moving left and right. All of a sudden a great thud indicated that we had landed just a slight bit too hard but gradually slowed down feeling a lot of relief. I was back where I started a week ago which was another surreal moment as it felt like a lifetime away. 

We stopped at one of the gates as I gathered my belongings unbuckling myself ready to leave the plane. As usual everyone was trying to grab their things and try to get off the plane all at once so I just sat and waited until someone was kind enough to let me out. The man sat next to me got up and made room for me to get out which I was grateful for. I thanked the flight attendants at the door and then I walked off the plane through the tunnel leading to passport control. It wasn’t far and as I got there, I used the option to do a self scanning booth which was quite quick. I had to place my passport picture page down and look at the screen. In no time at all a green tick popped up and the barriers opened for me to walk through. As I made my way to baggage reclaim, I bumped into a couple who I took the long walk to Hinterglemm with on the Sunday. We walked together talking about the flight and how we were getting home. We soon arrived at baggage reclaim waiting for the belt to start moving. Then Paul and Pat arrived and we stood and talked as the belt started and cases were coming along. Finally I could see mine coming which I was happy about and as soon as I picked it up I threw it over my shoulders and waited for Paul and Pat to get their cases which eventually showed up. 

We walked through the arrivals hall together and then we all shook hands saying goodbye to each other. I said to them that it was a pleasure and they said they gave credit to my parents for raising me which was really great to hear. As they left I bumped into the couple from before and I shook their hands wishing them safe travels and saying goodbye. My next concern was finding the train station from where I was but the signs made it very easy as an arrow pointing ahead saying ‘the station’ led me towards it. However, I followed the sign and came to a dead end with a row of cafes blocking the way. I was confused for a moment until I realised it was directing me to the lift right next to me. I then remembered which way the lift was taking me and clicked the departure button. The lift went up one floor and opened looking on at the rows of people at the check in desks. I walked out and turned left towards the train station. As I did so, I looked to my left and had seen the bench I had slept on 1 week ago which brought back some horrible memories. Anyway, I headed along the familiar long walkway getting ever closer to the train station thinking of the people I met on holiday knowing it was at an end. I finally made it to the train station and looked on at the board to see which platform I had to be at. It said platform 3 so I headed straight there with an hour and a bit to spare before my train would arrive to take me to York. 

Manchester Airport Train Station

However, I overheard by a couple of kids saying that there were no more trains coming to the airport. I didn’t think anything of it though as I thought they were playing tricks on their mother. They were telling the truth though as a passing guard confirmed it. There was one more train at the airport and the guard said I could jump onto that and get any train from Manchester Piccadilly. So I grabbed my things and rushed onto the train heading for Piccadilly. I later found out the reason for no more trains coming as it was because a train broke down on the line blocking other trains getting to there destination. I couldn’t believe these problems with the trains would happen again which made me frustrated. What made me more frustrated was the fact the train I was on was stopping at every little station along the way dragging on and on until the driver finally called out that we were approaching Piccadilly. As we arrived I realised the place was jam packed which was no surprise at all. 

I headed for the information area where there was a huge departures board but as I looked through it I couldn’t see anything about York. So then I went to the first available guard I could see and explain my situation to her. She told me a train was stopping off at York on its way to Middlesbrough and it was at Platform 1. I thanked her as she said I could use my ticket with no problems. I headed to platform 1 in no time at all and I could see a queue beginning to form in front of the train as people were getting off it. Then I overheard a commotion saying that the train on platform 1 wasn’t going to Middlesbrough but it was the one on platform 3. It was confirmed by another guard who I explained my situation too saying that I could use my ticket on that train. I stood next to the train amongst others waiting for the doors to open thinking that this had better be the right train. The doors opened and all of a sudden it was a mad rush to get on but thankfully, I was amongst the first to get in. I didn’t want to hang around trying to find a seat so I just sat at the first empty seat I could. I sat next to a middle aged woman and man who had the same intentions as me too. I placed my heavy rucksack in the overhead carrier with a bit of a squeeze and I sat back down feeling a bit of relief to know I was on the train heading to York. 

The driver spoke on the tannoy stating that we were heading for Middlesbrough but stopping off at various stations including York thankfully. Then the onboard guard came over asking for tickets so I took mine out and showed him them. He looked puzzled and then said that the tickets weren’t meant for the train I was on. I then told him of my situation which he already understood and I also told him that 2 guards at the station said I could get on this train. He then said that they shouldn’t have told me that and I couldn’t use the tickets on this train. I was thinking that he was going to put me off the train at the next stop but thankfully he let me off. I was just thinking that it wasn’t my fault the train broke down and the delays. Anyway I plugged my headphones in and I could relax a bit more. An hour or so went by until the call came out saying we were approaching York. At this point I grabbed my things and was ready for the doors to open. I looked at my watch and realised I had loads of time to spare before my connecting train would arrive so as the doors opened, I took my time to get off and look for the departure board. 

I found one but I got confused as the time on my ticket to Newcastle said 15:53 but the one on the board said 15:48. It didn’t seem like much difference and I thought they must have changed the time of the train. Common sense told me to find a guard at the information area so I headed to it. I got there quite quickly and spoke to a guard. He said the 15:53 was going to Aberdeen but stopping off at Newcastle. He told me to go to Platform 5 and I was soon on my way. I checked my watch again realising I still had 30 minutes to spare so I stood for a while feeling relaxed thinking of home until a train pulled up. For a split second I thought it was my train but immediately realised that it was heading for Manchester airport. The next train was Scarborough and within minutes it departed. I grabbed all my things ready as I knew my train would show up any second. Then I heard the screeching from the rails right in front of me and as I looked to my right my train arrived. I had to rush a bit as my carriage went passed me and further down the platform. I managed to get on and I began looking for my reserved seat. I found it feeling so relieved as I placed my heavy rucksack in the overhead carrier once more and took my seat. 

The train I was on was a virgin train so I had a strong feeling that it was going to be quick and comfortable. It wasn’t long before the train began to move and I was so relaxed knowing I was heading for home. The guard was doing his rounds and surprisingly enough he didn’t ask for my ticket so I placed them back in my wallet and constantly stared out of the window watching the British countryside go by but still missing the gigantic mountains of Austria. The next thing I knew we were stopping at Durham and I was getting a bit happier as I knew the next stop was Newcastle. We were approaching Newcastle in quick time and just before I grabbed my bags, I could see St James Park and the Tyne Bridge. ‘I’m back’ I kept thinking as we finally came to a stop with me ready for the doors to open. It was another surreal moment stepping off the train knowing I was back despite all the problems getting to Newcastle. I eventually passed the barrier and heading for the exit. 

Newcastle Train Station

The next surreal moment was taking the long walk from the train station to the Haymarket. It was a tiring moment too as it was all uphill with the weight of a person on my back. I had to quickly go into Marks and Spencers to get some change for the bus. With luck the bus that took me to my doorstep was parked up with people getting on. I joined the back of the line and slowly moved forward and then paying for my ticket. There was no baggage holder on the bus so yet again instead of trying to squeeze through everyone on the bus I took the first seat I could find which was next to an elderly lady. She kindly let me sit next to her and along the way we were talking about my trip and family and hers too. It definitely passed the time as quite soon I had arrived at the town next to my hometown. 

The closer I got to home, the weirder it became knowing how far I had been and what it took to leave and come back. We were approaching the few final corners so I grabbed my bags ready to get out around the corner. However, the driver decided to stop at the bus stop for 5 minutes and for no reason too as nobody was getting on or off. I was thinking ‘don’t worry mate, its not like I’ve got a family waiting for me or anything’. He eventually set off again and I got up and ready to get off. As we turned the corner I could see my parents with smudge at the bus stop and I had a smile on my face. The closer we got to them the more clear my mothers reaction was when she seen me. She was jumping up and down with a great smile on her face. Smudge was none the wiser until I got off the bus with her tail wagging like a propeller jumping up and down. We walked back home telling them more about my holiday and the trouble on the trains until we finally made it back home and through the door. I placed my heavy bag on the floor and felt relieved to be finally back home. 

Then I picked my bags up again and headed upstairs to unpack everything straight away. I walked into my room which was also weird and as I dropped my bags on my bed once more, I thought to myself ‘I’m back’. I sat relaxed thinking of my great adventurous journey I had ever been on. I had done so much in just a week which was hard to get over. I met some fantastic people along the way and learned quite a bit. I thought about the amazing things I did too of the paragliding, racing down the mountains on a bike, standing on a glacier, accomplishing so much never giving up or backing down. I even thought of Kate with her reaction to her paper roses as well as the most wondrous views the Austrian countryside and its mountains had to offer which was clearly a picturesque beauty.
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